Last Sunday we took an in-depth look at Hebrews chapter 4 and what it means to enter into God’s rest by faith. The seventh day, when God rested, was a picture of what God first intended for all people: a life at rest with God, ourselves, and others. Sin ruined that rest for humanity, but God’s rest remained. Israel rejected God’s invitation into His rest by not possessing the faith to enter into the promised land. Today, God extends the invitation into His rest through Christ and his finished work on the cross. To get the full context of the message, you can view it here.
There were a couple of other insights that time didn’t allow for on Sunday that I thought would be helpful to expand on.
1.) True rest occurs when we align ourselves with the value system of Jesus and prioritize His kingdom first.
Jesus issues the invitation to all people, “Take My yoke upon you.” This means setting the pace of my life with the pace of His and aligning my priorities and values with His. I mentioned this statement on Sunday, but realize that we must effectively define, “The value system of Jesus” to align ourselves with it. Certainly learning the heart of Christ and what matters to Him is an ever-ongoing process that occurs as we develop a relationship with him day by day. For myself, I have found that reading the gospels is one of the surest ways to discover the value systems of Christ. Nothing reflects His heart, nature, and character more than what He did and said when He walked this earth.
Probably the most potent expression of His Kingdom’s value system is found in His sermon on the Mount, specifically in Matthew chapters 5-7. I would encourage you to take a week and meditate each morning on the beatitudes and the teachings that follow. Consider the other-worldly nature of Jesus’ economy. Reflect on what might look differently in your life if you started living according to those principles, and weigh the potential outcomes of obedience.
Though the ways of Christ, so contrary to our ways, may seem heavier to carry in the moment, once adopted they prove to lighten the load of one’s life and provide true and lasting rest for the soul.
2.) True rest must be complete rest, that is resting our whole being; heart, mind, soul, and strength.
As I was studying, it struck me that we naturally tend to view rest from a merely physical perspective. When someone says, “I’m tired and need rest,” they typically mean, “I need to take a nap, or rest my body, or go on vacation.” Sometimes people recognize the need for a mental break from their work alongside that physical rest, but lasting and rejuvenating rest can only occur when it happens physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The Bible speaks clearly regarding the makeup of a person. God created us in His image, which makes us unique amongst all other beings. Just as God is a creator, we hold unique creative qualities. We work to create. We create art; we develop plans; we imagine ideas; we build relationships, etc. Just as God rested from His creative works to observe and enjoy His creation, so we must maintain a pattern of rest from our creative works. But, many people don’t ever enter into a complete rest. They rest their body and their mind, but they neglect to nurture their spiritual needs. Being created “in the image of God” means that though we possess a physical body and cognitive (mental) capacity, unlike other created animals we also possess a soul and a spirit (Mark 12:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:23). In this fallen world, we must invest in our spiritual needs just as much as any other part of us. If we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we must enter into His rest with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength!
Resting our hearts: Our heart is the seat of our emotional being. Hearts get broken, torn, overjoyed, and burdened (Job 30:27). Saint Augustine of Hippo got it right when he penned, “Our hearts are restless until they can find rest in You.” We can rest our hearts by talking through the emotions that are weighing us down with a trusted friend. Our hearts can rest when we intentionally take time to express our emotional state to the Lord, much like Hannah did (1 Samuel 1:13-15). Our hearts need that outlet!
Resting our souls: Jesus told us that when we align ourselves with Him, we will find, “Rest for our souls.” This is our inner man, our spiritual person. Our souls become turmoiled and vexed when we are continually dealing with the wickedness in our world (2 Peter 2:7-8). We can rest our souls through fasting, not just from food, but from the constant bombardment of the world. Getting off social media, Netflix, or even the news for a season to immerse our souls in God’s word can uplift and strengthen a weary soul. Practicing regular solitude and prayer is also essential to the rest of our spiritual being (Luke 6:12).
Resting our minds: We might rest our minds by sitting and watching a sunset, or gazing at the stars, or reading a book we enjoy as we take a break from what we typically process day after day. Merely shifting mental gears can be what the mind needs to reset. Changing the content of our thoughtful meditation can also help. This is why Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” He also encourages us in Colossians to, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Resting our strength: Our bodies can only hold up under so much… and I’m not only speaking of physical labor. It is scientifically proven that stress creates a physiological reaction within the cells of our body. If our bodies belong to the Lord and are the temple of His Holy Spirit, it stands to reason that they deserve to be taken care of appropriately. The body needs rest, not only from labor but from the stresses of life. We might do this through regular exercise, sleep, and healthy eating habits and intentional moments of inactivity. 1 Corinthians 6 tells us, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” It’s true; one day we will receive new and perfected bodies, but until then, we have to regularly rest and maintain the one we have the best we can.
I could go on and on, but that will be enough for this post. the point is this, “In a weary fallen world, you and I need God’s rest to spiritually survive and thrive.” I pray the Holy Spirit reveals to you a workable plan to help you rest and find renewed strength as you serve the Lord.
Isa 40:31 NKJV – 31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.